This post by NCTE member Jillian Heise is reprinted with permission from her blog, Heise Reads & Recommends.
A few days ago I posted a list of options for alternative options for updating your first-day read-aloud by replacing First Day Jitters with newer titles. Today I’m sharing updated alternatives for the classic (and somewhat overused in classrooms) Chrysanthemum.
Classics can be beloved for a valid reason, but I know that books that are 20+ years old may not hold the same connection for students today, due to something as simply as how outdated the art can look—not to diminish Kevin Henkes, but technology in art and printing has come far. So, instead of sticking with the tried-and-true favorite this back-to-school season, or maybe in addition to, perhaps try one of these newer titles about names with more inclusive, authentic representation. Because as cute and sweet as that mouse is, there are many more representations needed in today’s elementary classrooms to help all of our young people feel a sense of community and belonging.
INSTEAD OF CHRYSANTHEMUM, TRY THESE!
My Name Is Saajin Singh
That’s Not My Name!
Call Me Max
My Name Is Bana
Tell Teach Us Your Name
Your Name Is a Song
Alma and How She Got Her Name
The Girl Who Named Pluto
My name is Sangoel
The Arabic Quilt
I Am Not a Fish
My Name Is Aviva
It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, the staff, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.
Mrs. Heise is a National Board Certified Teacher with one master’s degree in reading and language arts and another in library and information science. She has been an elementary library media teacher in southeastern Wisconsin since 2017. Prior to that, she taught seventh- and eighth-grade ELA in the Milwaukee area for 11 years with an additional year out of the classroom as a literacy consultant. As founder of #ClassroomBookADay (inspired by Donalyn Miller’s #bookaday), she is a passionate advocate for the power of shared stories and is dedicated to supporting all student identities and lived experiences through access to inclusive literature to build classroom and school community and engagement. She presents at conferences and provides workshops at local, state, regional, national, and international levels and also brings her literacy expertise and knowledge of kidlit to her role as chair of the Children’s Literature Committee of the Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA). You can find her online at Heise Reads & Recommends and at @heisereads.